Dr. Frank Schwab on Globus Medical, Nemaris acquisition and keys to commercialize innovations in spine

Alan Condon -   Print  |
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New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery recently named spine surgeon Frank Schwab, MD, vice chair of the HSS Innovation Institute.

Dr. Schwab founded device company Nemaris in 2000, leading it to acquisition by Globus Medical in 2018. 

Nemaris' Surgimap software enables surgeons to preoperatively plan procedures to improve pedicle screw and expandable cage placement and was incorporated into Globus Medical's ExcelsiusGPS robotic navigation system for spine surgery.

Here, Dr. Schwab discusses his goals in this new role and what it takes to commercialize innovations in spine.

Note: Responses are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Q: Congratulations on your new role as vice chair of the HSS Innovation Institute. What are your stretch goals in this new position?

Dr. Frank Schwab: HSS is a recognized global leader in musculoskeletal research and clinical care. Our scientists and clinicians are extremely talented and innovative. My stretch goal is to work with the HSS Innovation Institute in refining processes and workflow that will substantially augment our pipeline of commercially viable solutions for meaningful impact on patients worldwide.

Q: How will your experience as founder of Nemaris help you in this role? Can you share any further details on Nemaris since the Globus Medical acquisition?

FS: I learned a tremendous amount through Nemaris — most importantly, how much focus and energy is required to take ideas to commercialization. Many inventors and innovators underestimate the substantial effort and value components related to success of an idea. I also learned that teamwork, trust and honesty are a critical backbone to building a business.

The merger with Globus Medical has been extremely positive and was founded on a shared vision to transform spine surgery through a digital and computer-assisted platform. The combined team is developing a series of truly innovative and disruptive solutions. I am eager to see the commercial release of these products that will offer tremendous tools to surgeons and have a great impact on outcomes from surgical care.

Q: Are there any current product developments or entrepreneurial opportunities that excite you in the field at the moment?

FS: The field is experiencing an incredible innovation boom. The need for more predictable outcomes and safer procedures is driving this. I am excited to see data driven analytics combined with precision care solutions revolutionize spine surgery. Specifically, we will see more precise patient selection, procedural planning and intraoperative technology, which is automated and offers seamless workflow for surgeons. Robotics and mixed reality are in their very early stages but are certain to have a deep impact in the coming years.

Q: From your experience, what do you think are the key factors to ensure commercial success for innovators in spine?

FS: A combination of factors are important to be considered: innovative ideas, passion and commitment to drive them forward, robust business models and partnerships to have the right expertise in commercializing an idea. It seems that good ideas are actually a rather small, although critical, component of all the elements required for successful innovation.

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